- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Record majorities in countries around the world hold unfavorable views of China in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday.

A survey of 14 nations revealed that more than half of those polled in each country dislike China and in nine countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia, unfavorable views of China are the highest since polling began a decade ago.

In the United States, negative views of China grew by nearly 20 percentage points since President Trump took office in 2017 and rose 13 points in the past year. According to the poll, in 2002 Americans surveyed expressed only a 16% unfavorable view of China. By contrast, the latest poll puts the unfavorable view of China at 74%.

Additionally, distrust of Chinese President Xi Jinping has reached unprecedented levels with double-digit increases in distrust found in nine of 12 countries surveyed.

For Americans, distrust of Mr. Xi increased sharply, with 77% saying they have no confidence in the Chinese Communist Party leader, an increase of 27 points since last year.

The rise in negative attitudes toward China follows international criticism for China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan in December. Chinese government officials hid critical facts about the disease, including its lethality and transmissibility, for weeks and silenced doctors who tried to issue warnings.

“Across the nations surveyed, a median of 61% say China has done a bad job dealing with the outbreak, while 37% believe the country has done a good job,” the center said in announcing the poll results.

“Confidence in Xi is low among men and women, those with higher and lower levels of education, across age groups and among those with higher and lower incomes,” the survey states.

On average, 78% of those surveyed in 14 nations stated they have “not too much” or “no confidence” in Mr. Xi’s handling of world affairs. The disapproval has increased by double digits since last year.

Young Americans in the poll for the first time expressed a majority negative opinion of China, with 56% of adults aged 18 to 29 saying they have an unfavorable view.

Australia ranked first in unfavorable views of China, with 81% of those polled expressing dislike. Australia’s government has led international efforts pressing the Chinese government to fully explain the origin of the coronavirus outbreak.

Initially, Beijing said the disease began at a wild animal market in Wuhan, but later backed off that claim and accused the United States of introducing the virus in China, a charge the U.S. government has denied.

Some scientists say the virus appears to have come from a laboratory in Wuhan. Others say it was a naturally-occurring jump from a bat to humans.

The poll is based on a survey of 14,276 people in 14 nations between June 10 and Aug. 3. It was released Tuesday.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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